Month: July 2010

Journalist’s should support Sherrod’s suit

Journalist’s should support Sherrod’s suit

Isn’t it logical that if a group enjoys a privilege that they would self-police themselves to a great deal to protect that right? Shouldn’t a group of journalists being extremely hard on one of their own that pontificates opinion as being fact and deliberately distorts the facts of their investigation to imply something significantly different?

I think this is logical. By challenging the journalists that hurt the Freedom of Press right or cause it to be abused, the journalists of the world are self-policing themselves. They are saying that with a Right comes a Responsibility. Abuse of the responsibility for fair reporting risks the rights of all journalists and, by extension, the rights of all US citizens.

Evidently, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal doesn’t agree with me (unless I am misunderstanding his argument). He recently wrote in his daily column that Ms. Shirley Sherrod was planning on suing Mr. Andrew Breitbart due to his highly edited video of her. This video ultimately forced her to be fired from her government job and she is upset about that. In my opinion, she should be upset. I think that Mr. Taranto even thinks she has the right to be upset. What he is arguing is that she may not want to sue (I don’t have an opinion on that) and that the journalists that heard her speak of the suit shouldn’t be encouraging her.

I disagree with Mr. Taranto’s opinion. While I read his column daily and agree with a large portion of what he writes, his statements here are incorrect, in my opinion. Journalists should be the first to condemn Breitbart – not the last. While I am just a simple blogger, I hereby condemn Mr. Breitbart for publishing a video that intentionally leads a viewer to an knowingly incorrect conclusion. If Mr. Breitbart would have stated that this video was only his opinion and not the actual facts of the full length video, I would feel differently.

I am not sure if Mr. Taranto’s column is externally exposed for all to read so here are the paragraphs that I have issue with.

But one aspect of this story strikes us as passing strange: The venue in which she issued this threat was a convention of journalists. What’s more, someone who was there tells us that when she said she planned to sue, the audience applauded. Our source was careful to note that there were nonjournalists in the audience too (PR men and corporate sponsors). Still, we have to ask: What kind of journalist would applaud the threat of a defamation lawsuit?

Journalists have an institutional interest in maximizing the scope of First Amendment protections, and that means keeping it as hard as possible for plaintiffs to sue for defamation. Even meritless defamation suits against journalists and news organizations are a nuisance. Thus one would expect journalists to have a general antipathy to the idea of defamation lawsuits, even when sympathetic to a particular prospective plaintiff.

We have noted that Breitbart is not a traditional journalist, and it follows from this that he has no special claim on the sympathy of those who are. Our point, however, is that the interests of defamation plaintiffs run counter to those of journalists, regardless of whether the defendants are journalists or are doing journalism.

New York Times v. Sullivan is itself a case in point. Although the defendant was a newspaper, the published material at issue was not news but a political ad–an open letter from the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, which criticized officials in Jim Crow-era Alabama for their treatment of civil rights demonstrators.

Journalists depend more on the First Amendment than just about anyone else, but we more than anyone should be cognizant that the protections we enjoy as we do our work apply to everyone, including civil rights advocates–and Andrew Breitbart.

More problems with the new iPhone 4

More problems with the new iPhone 4

I can attest to occasionally experiencing this problem. It is rather intermittent for me and I can mostly control the problem by not moving the phone from my ear during the conversation.

This is a little frustrating. I get the antenna being affected by my hand but this proximity sensor problem is just bad engineering (either software or hardware).

My new iPhone4 – me too!

My new iPhone4 – me too!

My thoughts on my new iPhone 4. I just received it yesterday from FedEx (it was fun watching the FedEx package being tracked from China through Hong Kong through Anchorage through Indianapolis and then to Loveland, OH where it was routed to me). I received it one day ahead of Apple’s expected revised delivery date.

I say “revised” because AT&T and Apple screwed up and missed my first delivery date.  The unit was supposed to ship on July 2 but they updated their date on July 3 to say that it was going to ship a week or so later. I was upset and I called Apple – the very polite and professional rep apologized but couldn’t change the ship date. He did give me a bumper as a consolation gift – good thing too as it turns out.

Like others on the web, I can easily see a degradation of the signal by holding the phone with my left hand.

I wanted to create a video of my experience. Unfortunately, I now understand why most of the videos on the web are so poor – it is really hard to record this experience due to the relatively small signal strength indicator, the very reflective screen, and the fact that you have to physically hold the phone in order to see the problem – you can’t just lay it on a table.

So this post turns into me saying “me too” which, I acknowledge, is pretty boring.

I have slightly larger than normal hands. I also used to be an athlete and my hands are very strong. Due to this, it is quite likely the pad of my hand below my thumb, is larger than most people.  According to the site, we live in INTERESTING TIMES (thanks for the image), this muscle group is the Adductor pollicis, Flexor pollicis brevis, and Abductor pollicis brevis.

When I hold the phone in my right hand, the signal strength is full bars. When I switch the phone to my left hand (still standing in exactly the same place), the number of bars drops over the course of about 5-10 seconds. It drops to virtually be flat line.

I don’t need to hold it tightly, the phenomenon happens in a very lose grip. In fact, my grip can be so loose that if I rotate my hand, the phone will fall out (I did this over a sofa to prove it to myself). I know that other bloggers have suggested that you need to hold it with a death grip, “Kung Fu” grip, or in an awkward Twister style contortion. This appears to be implying that it is inconvenient to hold the phone in the offending way. This is not the case for me, it is a casual grip in the most natural holding position possible. I am assuming that this difference could be the size of the pad of my hand, as I said above.

I have no idea if this will cause a dropped call.  I haven’t had the phone long enough for this to be truly tested.

I know that Apple says this is a software bug. This is pure spin and, forgive my vulgarity, it is pure bullshit. Even if the code was misrepresenting the signal strength in the bars, it is still changing that representation with the position of my hand. This means that it is not software related by environmental.

So, am I so upset that I am returning the phone?  No! It is still the best phone on the market and definitely the best phone on the AT&T network (I am forced to be on this lousy network due a corporate contract with my employer). I will probably have to enclose the phone in some kind of case, something that I have not done for the previous phones that I have owned. I don’t like cases as they exaggerate the size of the phone in my pocket.  I will try to find the thinnest case that I can find.

The iPhone 4 is a dramatic step forward in usability and speed compared to my old iPhone 3G. It is wicked fast and responds to my touches and swipes with a level of fluidity that I would never have expected. It is simply a joy to use.

Members of my family own the various Android phones. They currently are envious of my new iPhone 4 and if the iPhone 4 was available on the Verizon network, they both would trade in their Android phones for a new iPhone 4.

I know that Apple is holding a press conference tomorrow and supposedly this issue will be discussed.  I await their honesty with baited breath! My opinion of Apple for perpetuating this spin has dropped considerably. They should have owned up to it already and I am disappointed that they tried to play the spin game. I can almost guarantee that there were some engineers at Apple that knew that the ‘software bug’ ploy was bullshit (there are news reports that this may be true).  If I can come to the conclusion in 3 minutes of testing, surely they could have come to the same conclusion after a day or two of testing.

While I couldn’t do a video of my own, CNET did one that was pretty consistent with what I was trying to do. They have better production tools than I own. The only difference is that I wanted to hold the phone with my left hand, show the degradation, and then switch it to my right hand to show it pop back up.  They say in their video that it takes a minute – my testing shows about 5-10 seconds.

I just saw this on the Wall Street Journal:

Apple engineers were aware of the risks associated with the iPhone 4’s new antenna design as early as a year ago, but Steve Jobs liked the design it so much that Apple went ahead with its development, said a person familiar with the matter.

The company kept such a shroud of secrecy over the new phone’s development that the device didn’t get the kind of real-world testing that would have exposed such problems in phones by other manufacturers, said people familiar with the matter.

Apple’s iPhone 4 has been dogged by reports of antenna-reception problems since its launch last month.

Solar Impulse sets out on historic flight

Solar Impulse sets out on historic flight

I wish the brave aviator and his crew luck on their “around the clock” flight! Stories that show the ingenuity of science and engineering are always interesting and motivating.

Read the entire story here but here is a small excerpt:

An experimental solar-powered aircraft took off from a Swiss airbase here in the early hours of Wednesday in a bid to make history by flying round the clock and through the night.
Solar Impulse whirred along the runway at Payerne in western Switzerland, reaching 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) as lone pilot Andre Borschberg gently lifted into clear skies at 6.51 am (0451 GMT) on a scheduled 25 hour flight,

“This should be a great day of all goes well,” said team chief Bertrand Piccard, who made the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a balloon more than a decade ago.

“It’s clear that this is something that is completely different at least for aviation, but it’s also something completely different to what has existed in our society,” he added moments before take-off.

The Apple is spinning

The Apple is spinning

Apple has recently put out an open letter explaining that they have made a mistake in calculating the signal strength bars on their hit product, the iPhone (all versions up to the latest iPhone 4). I am glad that they Apple code developers have stumbled on this bug and are producing a fix. We all know that there are a few more software bugs in every product, so it is no surprise that Apple has a bug in this portion of their code.

But, is that really the fix? No.

All wireless devices need antennas.  If you are as old as I am, there is a chance that your first mobile phone was a “bag phone” or a “car installed phone”. These phones were massive and required a car or, at least, a briefcase to carry them around. The towers were so far dispersed that you needed a BIG antenna that was putting out mega-wattage to reach them. Putting that antenna up to your head would almost certainly turn your brain to scrambled eggs in a couple of weeks or so. These monsters were also analog and all you could do was talk on them (no texting – how in the world did we survive?).

Technology continued and the infrastructure improved. More towers and better communication technology developed. Analog turned to digital and everything got smaller. Also, people got tired of that stupid stick coming out of the top of their phone so the designers put the stick inside the phone (and not on top).  However, there is one thing that didn’t change – the physics of transmitting energy through the air still requires an antenna. The unfortunate thing is that the bigger the antenna (within reason) the better reception that you get. So Apple did good by putting the antenna into a metal strip that surrounds the phone.

If you are old enough, you may remember “rabbit ears” on your TV set. My job as a young brother was to stand beside the TV and hold the rabbit ears in the perfect pose so that my big brother (who would beat me up if I didn’t comply) could watch ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”. My body touching the antenna improved or hurt the reception of the TV based on where I touched it and how I stood. I stood in some pretty awkward positions in order to avoid my brother’s wrath.

So, when you hold any mobile phone with the antenna carefully hidden inside, your sweaty hands and your big old head are affecting that antenna to some degree. With the iPhone 4, you are making physical contact with that antenna so you are more likely to affect the signal – that is simply physics.

Apple is changing their software so you will be less aware of the issue and stop your damn complaining. They aren’t fixing the root cause; they just don’t want you to be aware of the problem anymore. This is the nature of spin – nothing really changes but your “perception” of the problem is different. If you don’t like it, take the phone back and buy an Android (which has the same problem just not as noticeable).

The issue is even more aggravated because the iPhone is only available on AT&T’s lousy network. Any time you screw with that signal, you will have problems. Since you so rarely have a good signal from AT&T, losing a little bit because you have sweaty hands and are touching the phone in it’s “special parts” just adds frustration. Apple would solve a lot of these problems by just signing a deal with Verizon.